You are feeling like the world is your oyster, you’ve had the operation, dropped the weight and are ready to move, can you travel?
When can I travel after a sleeve gastrectomy?
During the first four weeks after any laparoscopic surgery you have an increased risk of clots in your legs and lungs, so it is generally advisable to delay travel on long flights until after four weeks. When you do travel, consider taking aspirin or even injectables, however this isn’t routinely needed. Speak to your doctor if you have any concerns or a history of blood clots.
What should I eat when I travel?
If your surgery was more than six weeks ago, you should be on a normal, but reduced diet. You need to be mindful of fluids and protein in particular.
When travelling, it is a good idea to take snack foods with you. Be aware however of customs regulations around fresh fruit! Nuts, protein balls or water crackers are great snack substitutes. If you are travelling with children, make sure you have enough for everyone.
If you can pre-order with the airline you are travelling with, choose your food before you fly. Watch out for the vegetarian options–these are sometimes loaded with mashed starchy vegetables.
What about fluids when travelling?
When travelling people tend to forget about drinking fluids. Although not always convenient, it is best to take bottled water with you. A small drink bottle is good, though often hard to get through international security screening so buy one after the screening process. Constipation is never fun, and worse after a sleeve gastrectomy so take some fibre supplements with you (either capsules or sachet).
What should I bring when travelling?
Make sure you remember your multivitamins when you travel! If you may not have access to clean drinking water, think about taking the chewable vitamins instead. Speak to your dietitian about which is best for you, and optimise your vitamin levels before you travel. If you are due for blood tests while you are away ask the clinic to do these early. At Western Surgical Health, we do routine postoperative blood tests at 3/6/9/12 months post surgery so these can be done to fit around your schedule.
What do I need to watch out for when travelling?
Other than fluids and constipation, make sure you are not lapsing in to the habit of eating what everyone else is eating. Remember to eat your portion sizes (but feel free to leave your portion bowl at home). It is easier to forget to feel the hunger/satiety cue when you’re outside of your normal daily routine, especially when travelling. If you are travelling with family or friends, get them to help you stick to your diet. Remember if you often get steak or bread giving you a “stuck” feeling, avoid these as much as possible when you are away as you may not have easy access to medical facilities.
What if I start vomiting?
If you are in the first few months after sleeve surgery, it is a good idea to take something with you for nausea. Ask your doctor for a script and get it filled before you travel. There is nothing worse than having to search for medications whilst overseas or getting questions from customs because your medication packet is unlabelled! Make sure the dose is on the packet and take these as early as possible if you feel nausea.
Enjoy your time away, keep active and stay mindful of your sleeve. Bon Voyage!
Dr Ruth Blackham, Surgeon